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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 3, 22-30

After this, Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised.

John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there and were being baptised.

For John had not yet been put in prison.

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew about purification,

so they went to John and said, 'Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now, and everyone is going to him.'

John replied: 'No one can have anything except what is given him from heaven.

'You yourselves can bear me out. I said, "I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him."

'It is the bridegroom who has the bride; and yet the bridegroom's friend, who stands there and listens to him, is filled with joy at the bridegroom's voice. This is the joy I feel, and it is complete.

He must grow greater, I must grow less.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

On this last day of the time of Christmas the page of the Gospel reports the last testimony of the Baptist about Jesus before Herod incarcerated him. The forerunner and Jesus, though both preach at the same time, are quite different from one another. It is not only about a geographic difference (Jesus was baptizing in Judea, in lower Jordan, while John the Baptist was in Salim, toward the north) but rather the difference in their mission. John the Baptist, seeing that the figure of Jesus is growing in people's hearts, makes clear once again that Jesus is the messenger of God, not him. John actually wants his disciples and the crowds that flocked to him to understand that Jesus is the Messiah. And it is Jesus that they must accept and follow. In order to make his mission understood, the Baptist calls on the comparison of the wedding: he came to prepare the wedding, to call attention of the bride, i.e. the people of Israel, to welcome the coming bridegroom so that they can live the nuptial celebration. Therefore it is not toward him (John) that they should go, but rather they must go to the bridegroom, Jesus of Nazareth. And yet, John the Baptist clarifies once again that all of this comes from heaven. John reasserts to his disciples and to the crowds who had run to him that Jesus is indeed God’s envoy. And it is He, therefore, who we should accept and follow. In order to make them understand his mission he draws a comparison with a wedding feast: he came to prepare the wedding feast, to draw the bride’s attention — that is, of the people of Israel — and to welcome the bridegroom who is about to arrive and live out the wedding feast. Therefore, it is not to him (John the Baptist) to whom they should be going, but toward the bridegroom, Jesus of Nazareth. John the Baptist’s testimony recalls the task of every preacher: to prepare the heart of he or she who listens to welcome the Lord. But it is also the task of every believer: to help those we encounter to accept Jesus into their heart. This is the meaning of John the Baptist’s extraordinary affirmation, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. How often do we fall prey to our desire to be at the centre of attention, to show off, and be on stage. Each one of us must decrease our pride so that the love for Jesus may grow in us and in others. Once again John the Baptist stands before us and teaches us how to be disciples.

Prayer of the Christmas season